42 minutes | Apr 26, 2022

Water as a Battery

In 2020, a FIFTH of all the energy generated in the United States came from renewable sources. That means wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy are slowly but surely winning. Combined, they surpassed nuclear and coal-based energy for the first time in history. As we move toward cleaner sources, we have to get even more efficient in how we handle and use energy. And that means: batteries.

The eternal problem in electricity generation is when you generate too much energy, how do you store it so you can use it when your capacity to generate energy dips? Architects and engineers today have hit on a novel solution for storing energy—water.

While the idea of using water to store electricity is almost a century old, the two projects in today's episode use water as a battery—but for heat. First, Metropolis executive editor Sam Lubell speaks to the visionary architect Carlo Ratti, who along with his architecture firm won a Metropolis Responsible Disruptors Award for Hot Heart, a proposal to heat the city of Helsinki using a set of floating basins in the Gulf of Finland.

Then, in part two, senior editor Kelly Beamon talks to Don Pawson, a director of engineering at SmithGroup, who designed the very first sewage waste energy exchange system in a commercial building in the U.S. Brilliant stuff.


Carlo Ratti Designs a Floating Structure to Heat A City and Create Community: metropolismag.com/projects/carlo-ratti-hot-heart/

A Water Utility Office Designed to Rival Most Museums: metropolismag.com/projects/smithgroup-dc-water/

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Deep Green is a production of SANDOW Design Group.

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